He kōrero wairua: indigenous spiritual inquiry in rongoā research
The Ngā Tohu o te Ora research project was developed to investigate outcomes associated with rongoā Māori, in order that this practice might enjoy increased support as a funded service. The primary aims were to: 1) identify wellness outcome measures used by traditional Māori healers; and 2) develop and test a framework of traditional Māori wellness outcome measures. The Ngā Tohu o te Ora research team met with healers in a series of workshops over 3 years. The process of inquiry that unfolded was guided and shaped by healers. This established a specific set of ethical parameters and processes influenced strongly by wairua, which thereby influenced the conduct of the research. What emerged methodologically was a variant of kaupapa Māori participatory research, resembling broader indigenous research approaches, with features of “spiritual inquiry”. This paper will outline this unique form of research, and implications for engaging meaningfully with healing communities.